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Toyota Prius Ad Drives into First Place at Nielsen’s Auto Ad Awards

3 minute read | April 2017


Across the media landscape, TV is still king when it comes to consumption. So it’s no surprise that ad spend on TV in the U.S. last year totaled $85 billion. With that level of spending, brands—especially auto brands—know that it’s critical that their messages resonate with consumers. In fact, Nielsen’s Ad Intel data shows that automotive marketers spent $13 billion on TV ads in the U.S. last year, representing 16% of the year’s total advertising on the small screen. For comparison, U.S. marketers spent $1.55 billion in 2016 on beer ads across television, radio, print, cinema and outdoor media combined.

As competition is unparalleled and innovation is rapid, auto marketers, advertisers and manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to drive returns and accelerate engagement with their audiences.

There is no possibility that technology will take a back seat, so marketers’ desire to keep advertising running on all cylinders is a top priority.

For the 11th year of the Nielsen Auto Advertising Awards, which are given to brands with the most effective ads on TV, the top honor was awarded to Toyota, for its “The Longest Chase” spot.

In addition to Toyota receiving the top award, other winners included:

  • Automotive Tech Ad of the Year: Chevrolet Malibu for its “Unbranded Launch” ad (Creative Agency: Commonwealth McCann, Media Planning Agency: Carat).
  • Luxury Campaign of the Year: Genesis for its “First Date” ad (Creative Agency: Innocean Worldwide, Media Planning Agency: Canvas Worldwide).
  • Spanish Advertiser of the Year: Nissan Rogue for its “First Impression” ad (Creative Agency: Fluent 360, Media Planning Agency: Fluent 360 & OMD).

The winners were picked based on performance in market, as assessed by Nielsen TV Brand Effect key metrics. The results reflect real life memorability, since viewing is done in a natural environment complete with daily distractions.

Given the importance of tech in consumer shopper criteria, this year’s awards included a new category, Tech Ad of the Year. This award highlights ads that showcase the functions, features and new technologies that new vehicles include. Chevy took this year’s tech award for its “First Date” spot, which highlights a vehicle’s built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi technology.

The Nielsen Auto Awards are unique in that the panelists respond based on what they watched in a natural environment (as opposed to a clinical research environment). The results reflect real-life reaction and memory of television commercials. Nielsen issues surveys for all national commercials within its covered dayparts and networks.

For the ads to be ranked most effectively, they had to score well across several key syndicated key advertising effectiveness metrics:

  • Memorability: Was the ad memorable?
  • Branding: Did the viewer remember whose ad it was?
  • Breakthrough: Memorability x Branding
  • Message Recall Did the viewer recall the primary message?
  • Likeability: Did the viewer like the ad?

By being able to look at what drives great storytelling and how brands can connect emotionally in a way that is memorable and distinctive, the auto industry is poised to drive ROI across the finish line.

NOTE: Not all categories were ranked across all five metrics.